The word Joy uses to describe our family is weird. Maybe. People who overheard me describe myself as conservative have been quick to correct me. Perhaps my conservatism is to the extreme that ends up on the other side.
I think she meant unconventional. I tend to pick and choose my conventions. Mothers Day is one that I didn’t pick up on very readily. My mom didn’t receive much after the elementary school craft projects were complete. I was inconsiderate like that. I was the oldest child following my dad’s pattern of ignoring holidays.
The flurry of angst about mothers day in the adoption blogs aroused me this year. Though my own mother is dead and gone, she is still the most powerful figure in Mother’s Day to me. My dead mother is more important than what others think about my motherhood.
I officially terminated my parental rights a few days before Mother’s Day. I don’t have the record. If a copy was intended for me it would have been given to my mother. She was there, behind me. She might have received something. If she did she destroyed it. I went through all the files before selling their house in 1997. No evidence.
Just like I was supposed to obliterate my memory of birthing a daughter, I was oblivious to Mother’s Day that year. I was in my room, in my parents’ home, crying. No connection.
I would’ve guessed my mother went to church that day. But maybe not. They would have been focused on reminders of what day it was. Special recognition given to mothers that she was not getting from me. I wasn’t even angry. A few months after losing my daughter I moved in with a man who treated me like a cross between a daughter and a lover. Then drifted through years of circumstances that made it easy to forget about Mother’s Day.
What was my little brother doing? He was the Golden Boy. The good son. GB told me later that our dad had instructed him that sex could result in pregnancy which would result in a lifetime commitment to his girlfriend. The message was powerful enough for him to quit having sex with his girlfriend and stay away from girls entirely for a few more years until they were old enough to get birth control. Preventing Mothers Days.
I like to think that watching me navigate post maternity taught my parents something. I know watching me navigate early reunion was confounding to them. All the denial and all the burial couldn’t put it all behind me, ever. My teen pregnancy surfaced. It is and always will be part of my motherhood.
The little crafty projects of my raised kids are mementos of their growth and development much more than commemorations of my motherhood. When they were little I learned to send cards to my own mother and grandmother. This year the notion of celebrating mothers is adjusting. The sappiness is ebbing.
There is so much I didn’t share with my mother. So much hurt and anger we had to put aside in order to share some good times, to see each other’s soft and tender caring.
Losing Joy was so devastating to me I had no thought of how anyone else felt. Joy’s loss overwhelmed me when I heard it from her lips.
My mother never whispered a word to me about her own feelings.
My grandson is not going to be a teenager much longer. My perspective on motherhood continues to shift. This year I love my mother a little more. And I receive that love to myself.
Though brunch is absolutely my favorite meal, I have no desire to face the crowds on Mother’s Day. Perhaps I’ll be tending my garden.